During the 2013 State of the Union Address, President Obama referenced the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) in Youngstown, Ohio as a new program to look at for economic inspiration. A year and a half later, Make: chose to conduct its annual 3D-printer tests at their location as a way to help connect a traditional manufacturing community with the Maker Movement.
Located inside a once-shuttered furniture factory, the institute, renamed America Makes in October 2013, honors the city’s industrial past while embracing a technological future. Aiming to become a center point of research and development for the rapid-moving world of 3D printing, it teaches its workers to be experts in all areas of additive manufacturing — from desktop to industrial — while offering knowledge and facilities to companies and universities who are looking to bolster their capabilities.
As promised, the venue and its collection of top-level machines, able to turn powdered metal or nylon into anything from rocket nozzles to windmills, is very inspiring. After our weekend of testing, America Makes’ founding director Ralph Resnick opened the doors to the public. The look of excitement on the faces of the visitors, many of them hopeful for an economic resurgence in the Steel Valley, made it clear that the program is headed in the right direction.